To a Child
Four Years Old
From The AlleyBecause you are four years old
the candle is all dressed up in a new frill.
And stars nod to you through the hole in the curtain,
(except the big stiff planets
too fat to move about much,)
and you curtsey back to the stars
when no one is looking.
You feel sorry for the poor wooden chair
that knows it isn't nice to sit on,
and no one is sad but mama.
You don't like mama to be sad
when you are four years old,
so you pretend
you like the bitter gold-pale tea ---
if you don't drink it up pretty quick
a little gold-fish
will think it is a pond
and come and get born in it.--- Lola Ridge
PastoralLiza, go steep your long white hands
In the cool waters of that spring
Which bubbles up through shiny sands
The color of a wild-dove's wing.
Dabble your hands, and steep them well
Until those nails are pearly white
Now rosier than a laurel bell;
Then come to me at candlelight.
Lay your cold hands across my brows,
And I shall sleep, and I shall dream
Of silver-pointed willow boughs
Dipping their fingers in a stream.--- Elinor Wylie
(1885-1928)--- From Three Centuries of American Poetry
©1999 Bantam Books